Category Archives: Bigotry

The Fog Of History: Explaining Trump

Ron Rosenbaum wrote one of the best books about the Hitler phenomenon and its persistence through the years: Explaining Hitler. In that brilliant work, Rosenbaum talked to some of the explainers-from the crazy to the reputable-to try to understand how Nazism could have taken hold in a country known for its literature, music, art, and cinema. Rosenbaum also endeavored to understand *why* Hitler’s demonic spell continued after his catastrophic failure and revelation as the war criminal’s war criminal. If you’re interested in the subject, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. What’s not to love about a book that has a chapter titled The Hitler Family Film Noir?

Rosenbaum was approached by some publications to explore comparisons between Hitler and the man some call Hair Fuhrer and I call the Insult Comedian: Donald J. Trump. He was initially reluctant to do so for reasons he explains in a brand spanking new piece in the Los Angeles Review Of Books:

Until the morning after the election I had declined them. While Trump’s crusade had at times been malign, as had his vociferous supporters, he and they did not seem bent on genocide. He did not seem bent on anything but hideous, hurtful simplemindedness — a childishly vindictive buffoon trailing racist followers whose existence he had mainstreamed. When I say followers I’m thinking about the perpetrators of violence against women outlined by New York Magazine who punched women in the face and shouted racist slurs at them. Those supporters. These are the people Trump has dragged into the mainstream, and as my friend Michael Hirschorn pointed out, their hatefulness will no longer find the Obama Justice Department standing in their way.

Bad enough, but genocide is almost by definition beyond comparison with “normal” politics and everyday thuggish behavior, and to compare Trump’s feckless racism and compulsive lying was inevitably to trivialize Hitler’s crime and the victims of genocide.

As a believer in Godwin’s Law until the 2016 election, I understand where Rosenbaum is coming from. It’s why I still prefer using the term Fascist to describe the Trump-Bannon “movement” and their loathsome followers.

Now that they’re in power, Rosenbaum detects a methodological similarity between the Trumpers and German Nazis. It’s rooted in both the big lie technique and the war on the press. In Hitler’s case, his fiercest foes back home in Bavaria were the reporters of the Munich Post who were referred to as “the poison kitchen” by the Nazis.

I really should let the master explainer explain himself:

But after the election, things changed. Now Trump and his minions are in the driver’s seat, attempting to pose as respectable participants in American politics, when their views come out of a playbook written in German. Now is the time for a much closer inspection of the tactics and strategy that brought off this spectacular distortion of American values.

What I want to suggest is an actual comparison with Hitler that deserves thought. It’s what you might call the secret technique, a kind of rhetorical control that both Hitler and Trump used on their opponents, especially the media. And they’re not joking. If you’d received the threatening words and pictures I did during the campaign (one Tweet simply read “I gas Jews”), as did so many Jewish reporters and people of color, the sick bloodthirsty lust to terrify is unmistakably sincere. The playbook is Mein Kampf.

Trump, of course, is not only incapable of writing a book on his own, he’s a notorious non-reader. Instead, he’s the teevee-watcher-in-chief. But Hitler was *not* an intellectual. He was a demagogue with an acute sense of his audience and what we would call his base. Trump may not be a true believer in the white nationalist ideology that Bannon and Miller have cobbled together BUT he *is* its best salesman.

Back to Hitler and the poison kitchen. The Munich Post did its best to expose the petty criminality and nationalistic bigotry that drove Hitler and the Nazis but in the end, we know what happened. They lost the kampf: Hitler came to power and plunged the world into an orgy of chaos, hatred, and violence. Steve Bannon is on the record as wanting chaos and destruction in order to bring on his own B3 new order and I’m not talking about the band of that name. He’s a right-wing Leninist. I’m a John Leninist myself.

Rosenbaum is even more worried about the normalization of Trump now that he’s the Current Occupant:

Cut to the current election. We had heard allegations that Trump kept Hitler’s speeches by his bedside, but somehow we normalized that. We didn’t take him seriously because of all the outrageous, clownish acts and gaffes we thought would cause him to drop out of the race. Except these gaffes were designed to distract. This was his secret strategy, the essence of his success — you can’t take a stand against Trump because you don’t know where Trump is standing. You can’t find him guilty of evil, you can’t find him at all. And the tactics worked. Trump was not taken seriously, which allowed him to slip by the normal standards for an American candidate. The mountebank won. Again.

Suddenly, after the inconceivable (and, we are now beginning to realize, suspicious) Trump victory, the nation was forced to contend with what it would mean, whether the “alt-right” was a true threat or a joke to be tolerated. Did it matter that Trump had opened up a sewer pipe of racial hatred? Once again, normalization was the buzzword.

And I remembered the Munich Post, defending Weimar Germany. I reflected on how fragile democratic institutions could be in the face of organized hatred. Hitler had been tricky about his plans until he got the position and the power to enact them. Trump had been tricky, neither accepting nor rejecting the endorsement of KKK leader David Duke. David Duke! The KKK! In this century! He claimed he didn’t know who he was. He couldn’t be disqualified because of someone he didn’t know. That’s where we all went wrong, thinking he was stupid and outrageous, not canny and savvy and able to play the media like Paganini. The election demonstrated the weakness of a weak democracy, where basic liberties could be abolished by demagoguery and voter suppression.

Rosenbaum is concerned that normalization is taking place in too many sectors of the public and press. The MSM wavers between exposing Trumpian excesses and normalization. I am cautiously optimistic that vast swaths of the American people do not accept Trump’s legitimacy and will never normalize his “movement.” Look at me: I am fundamentally a center-left Democrat who belongs to the “get shit done” wing of the party. That’s been suspended along with my adherence to Godwin’s Law. I am committed to resisting Trumpism and everything about it. This is not the time to make a deal with the devil. Trump regards offers of compromise as signs of weakness. I will continue to show him the same level of respect that Republicans gave to Barack Obama: zero, zilch, bupkis, nada.

People need to be patient. Given the current make-up of  Congress, Trump can only be removed if Republicans turn on him. That will only happen when they think the cost of supporting him outweighs the cost of pissing off rank and file Trumpers. That’s why public displays of disapproval are so vital. And the much ballyhooed 25th Amendment solution requires the support of his cabinet. It’s one reason why, with the exception of Generals Mattis and Kelly, the cabinet is loaded with wealthy political non-entities, sycophants, and right-wing ideologues. They *might* rebel if Trump continues his manic ways but it will take time. You know things are bad if I think Mike Pence is less horrific than Donald Trump. Why? He’s less likely to plunge us into a war caused by the last thing he saw on teevee. Trump puts the boob into boob tube as well as the idiot into idiot box.

Pressure and patience must be the watchwords of the resistance. We didn’t get into this mess overnight and we won’t get out of it quickly either. Satire is one of our best weapons. It hits Trump where he lives: he wants to be loved and admired. It’s our job to see that he’s neither. We don’t want him to think he’s Chaplin’s Great Dictator, Adenoid Hynkel. If Trump tries to dance with a global balloon, we need to pop it.

Vive les Maquis.

Confessions Of A Super Bowl Troll

I’m a bad American sports fan. I don’t *have* to watch the entire Super Bowl unless there’s a team I like playing. Last night, we watched an old John Ford movie, then tuned in for Lady Gaga’s half time show and the rest of the game. A lot of people missed her subtle political subtext but my friend Roberta did not:

Sometimes the subtle can be radical. I found her opening with snippets of “God Bless America,” “This Land is Your Land” and the pledge to be audacious and absolutely brilliant. She let the righties know that they have no monopoly on love for the USA, and she reminded lefties that there are bigger reasons to fight for what’s right than whatever our own, personal identity may be. And then came the Big, Gay Anthem. It was a million times more brilliant than an overt FU to Trump. Had she done something blatant, it would have fulfilled the negative expectations of the haters and allowed them to dismiss her as just another rude, obnoxious liberal. By making the song selections she did, she made it impossible for them to do that. It’s really quite genius.

Thanks for boiling that down so I don’t have to, R. It’s good to have clever friends who understood that Gaga was working with a scalpel and not a meat dress cleaver last night. And, yes. I like Lady Gaga. Sue me.

Everything is political in the winter of our discontent including this Super Bowl. (I refuse to use the Roman numeral: it’s pompous beyond belief.) Much of the country was rooting for the underdog Atlanta Falcons and against the plutocratic Patriots with their overt ties to Trump via owner Robert Kraft, Coach Grumpy, and Brady the ball inflator. I was too despite the fact that many in New Orleans consider rooting against the Falcons to be a Nolier than thou litmus test. The Falcons are, of course, the Saints arch-rivals but that’s mere sports hate. Real world concerns trumped sports hate for me yesterday.

One reason I pulled for the losing team is some of the people who were rooting for the winning team. The president* was one but so were some more blatant bigots. Here’s a sampler from my old “friend” the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer and that punchable Nazi, Richard Spencer:

Rumor has it that Trump wants to gay marry Tom Brady but is afraid of Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire’s reaction. I suspect the white-haired prevaricator from Hoosierland could find a way to rationalize it. It’s his specialty as Trump’s Veep.

Let’s do some virtual Nazi punching:

Can’t have a majority black city’s team win the big game. Of course, it’s already happened with the Saints. (I’m too lazy to research other possibilities. Again, sue me.) Also, one of the white receivers is Jewish. Chew on that, you fourth-rate Streicher.

Spencer also called Brady an Aryan avatar. I am not making this up. Does Spencer’s fulsome praise make Brady a white nationalist or neo-Nazi? Of course not, but his silence about his less savory fans makes him look like a worm, weasel, or toady. The Patriots represent one of the bluest regions in the country so I hope that someone in the Commonwealth calls him on this shit. It would give Brady the chance to spout *new* clichés. The old ones are getting a bit shopworn.

Another thing that makes me a bad American is that I didn’t pay much attention to the ads. I’ll let others talk about them elsewhere. I was too busy trolling lefty Saints fans who allowed their sports hate to overrule everything else. I don’t get extreme sports hate. I dislike some sports teams but I *hate* racism and bigotry and those who go along with it infinitely more. There’s a perfect example here at First Draft of putting real world concerns above sports hate. Athenae and Mr. A are ardent Packers fans who hail from Wisconsin yet they live in Chicago, which is home to the Packers arch-rival, Da Bears. I guess they should move in order to satisfy the purity trolls. It’s just sports, it’s supposed to be fun and unimportant. Football isn’t life, it’s just a game.

I, for one, am glad that this particular Super Bowl is over. Its peculiar mix of sports hate stupidity and politics will not be missed. One good thing that happened was that Roger Goodell got booed last night in Houston. Sometimes you get the sweet with the bitter.

I think Mick and Keith got it right by analogy with this song so I’ll give them the last word:

 

 

 

You Can’t Argue with the Need to Perform

A story in a bunch of tweets from last week:

I keep seeing all these bewildered reactions whenever some massive Trump scandal or screwup or conspiracy is exposed. Why doesn’t this “stick?” Why doesn’t this change anyone’s mind? He’s going to let Paul Ryan gut their Medicare. Why doesn’t that matter? He’s hiring the entirety of the financial crisis and letting it run the economy. Why aren’t Trump voters feeling betrayed? Why isn’t THIS or THIS or THIS the breaking point for anyone who voted for him? Because none of that interferes with the central reason they voted for him. They keep telling you. They voted for him to give a big middle finger to women, black people, libtards, intellectuals, bureaucrats, feminazis, protesters, immigrants legal and otherwise, politicians generally and anything else that bugged them.

And he may be betraying every campaign promise but he’s not breaking the only one they cared about: The one to make them feel like they mattered again.

It’s performative. It’s the entire Republican thing, from before George W. Bush probably, and we keep wanting to make it make sense. Performances don’t make sense. You can’t argue me out of putting green and gold on and tromping up the stairs to Lambeau in 13 degree weather to watch my quarterback throw four interceptions while his receivers treat every oncoming football like it’s made out of bees. You can’t do it. I want to be a Packer fan. These people want to be FOR TRUMP.

And FOR TRUMP means they get to feel powerful. FOR TRUMP means they get to bully right back. FOR TRUMP means they get to tell their liberal sister-in-law that she’s a stupid bitch. FOR TRUMP means instead of respecting a black or brown person, they get to call that person names. FOR TRUMP means they get to turn off that nagging instinct, nurtured by the churches they say mean so much to them, that maybe they should help the big scary world that’s burning down outside their windows. FOR TRUMP means they get to feel like being mad is enough.

(Do some of them have genuine economic problems that could have been addressed by Democratic policies had Democrats not been sucking off every investment banker they saw? OF COURSE. That doesn’t address the reflexive FUCK YOU that is the response to anything Trump does now.)

It’s part and parcel of the performative aspect of politics generally. Try telling a movement pro-lifer that the best way to raise abortion rates is to outlaw abortion. They’re not going to argue the facts with you. They’re going to BE AGAINST abortion. They’re going to wear the T-shirt and they’re going to vote because they want to keep that part of the character they invented and put on like a suit. You can’t talk them out of their clothes, God’s sakes.

We used to say, all us internet grandparents who were around during the early days post-9/11, that this had given a lot of the population the excuse to be the assholes they’d always wanted to be. A lot of the bewilderment from well-meaning white progressives right now is the inability to accept that the simmering anti-lib dad anger, quiet nice-lady racism and selfishness of their parents and their parents’ friends wasn’t all that different from the white supremacists screaming in the street. When you get right down to it, they both always voted the same way. The former might be more dangerous, in the long run.

So what do you DO, a couple of people asked on Twitter. If facts don’t matter and arguments don’t matter and scandals don’t matter, do you just give up on these people? And my immediate reaction was yes, and with a couple of days to think about it I still think, kind of?

Kind of means you start treating them like the addicts they are. They’re high as kites on talk-radio distortions and you don’t sit down with a cokehead and calmly debate the merits of smoking up some pure clean LIFE instead. You get that cokehead into rehab if you can, but for God’s sake you stop giving him money. You stop feeding the beast with empathetic articles and moving to the right on social issues and other useless mollifications that I’m sure many highly paid consultants in DC are advising right now.

You find ways to save the people being hurt by the person all this performance put in power. You rally for the immigrants and you call your congressmen and you write to your senators and you volunteer at the shelter and you do what you can to save as many as you can. That’s where you put your energy. You take care of the person the rage-addicts hurt.

Maybe some of them will come around. When they do, when they get woke, you treat them gently, like newborns to the world of sense, and you give them work to do too. You don’t give them a medal for showing up but you give them a job. The more people have to do, the less time they’ll have to stew on the ways in which the world has wronged them.

And when comes the time to vote again? When that comes around? You make sure you and yours are THERE. Because there are more good people than bad, even if there are more quiet people than loud. You vote this shit down and out, you watch it die, and you move on.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Trouble In Mind

Woodruff Underground RR

The Underground Railroad by Hale Woodruff, 1942.

Another week, another mural as the featured image. Hale Woodruff is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice. If you don’t recognize Trump’s Frederick Douglass quote, I have failed as a blogger.

It has been a Krewe of Spank-centric week at Adrastos World HQ. We’ve been helping with the float, buying costume bits, and even went to a pizza-n-shirt-iron-on party. Bet you’ve never done that. We also drank beer. Bet you’ve done that.

This week’s theme song was selected with our politically chaotic moment in mind. I am mindful of the fact that Trouble In Mind was written in 1924 by jazz pianist Richard Jones. It has been recorded oodles of time by oodles of artists. I have selected worthy versions by Big Bill Broonzy, Nina Simone, and the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the post only without the dirt or the band. That’s right, this post will be unbroken…

Emmett Till: Every social movement requires a spark. For the Civil Rights movement, the spark was provided by the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955. In fact, Jesse Jackson describes a conversation with Rosa Parks that confirms the importance of Emmett Till:

“I asked Miss Rosa Parks [in 1988] why didn’t she go to the back of the bus, given the threat that she could be hurt, pushed off the bus, and run over, because three other ladies did get up. She said she thought about going to the back of the bus. But then she thought about Emmett Till and she couldn’t do it.”

There’s a new book about the murder of Emmett Till wherein author Timothy Tyson got the woman who was allegedly the target of unwanted attention by Till to admit that nothing much really happened. Vanity Fair’s Sheila Weller has the details.

It’s abundantly clear that the Current Occupant has no knowledge of the Civil Rights movement or how important it is to many of us. It didn’t involve him directly so it’s off his radar screen. I suspect Trump and his dreadful, racist daddy regarded the movement as a nuisance. It made it harder for them to discriminate against black folks in their apartment buildings in the outer boroughs, after all. So it goes.

We go from the crime that inspired the Civil Rights movement to a look at how Hollywood is taking on the  Insult Comedian.

The New Culture War: We tend to think of Pats Buchanan and Robertson when we think about the culture war. Buchanan’s 1992 GOP convention speech scared the living shit out of middle-American and was a factor in Poppy Bush’s defeat. Thanks, Pat.

The culture war used to be a right-wing thing. It no longer is. The Guardian’s Stuart Jeffries takes a look at how Hollywood and others on the left are standing up to the Insult Comedian. My favorite bit involves the divine Julia Louis-Dreyfus:

At last Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild awards in Hollywood, barely anyone who got to the stage failed to denounce Donald Trump’s immigrant ban. Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for instance, accepting her award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series with her portrayal of a (with all due respect) venal and useless president, said: “I am the daughter of an immigrant. My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France, and I am an American patriot … I love this country. I am horrified by its blemishes. This immigrant ban is a blemish, and it is un-American.”

Her speech came from the heart and was clearly not written by Selina Meyer’s staff. They would have found a way to fuck it up and elect Hugh Laurie President…

There’s already a backlash over comments like Julia’s and Meryl Streep’s but, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. The rank hypocrisy on the right about celebrities in politics is breathtaking. The GOP elected an actor President, sent Gopher from The Love Boat and Sonny Bono to Congress, and now they complain about free speech from Julia and Meryl. As the Cowardly Lion would surely say, DA NOIVE.  I fed Siri that sentence and she had a nervous breakdown. It was most amusing.

Speaking of the culture wars, our next segment takes a look at cursing. Hmm, I wonder if we still have a fuck quota at First Draft.

Fucking Around: There’s a motherfucking good review at the New York Review of Books by Joan Acocella of two bloody buggery bollocky books about swearing. You should read the fucker. Fuckin’ A.

Speaking of people who got fucked over, here’s a look back at Grateful Dead’s 1970 arrest in New Orleans. They did not return to the Crescent City until 1988.

Busted Down On Bourbon Street: The Grateful Dead were “set up like a bowling pin” in New Orleans on January 31, 1970. The city fathers were terrified that hippies would overrun the city and interfere with their drinking. They simply could not have that.

There’s a fun look back at Live For Live Music.com. I can say fun because nothing much came of the bust except for semi-lurid headlines and this mug shot of a certain lead guitar player:

man_file_1055638_jerry-mugshot-1970

Notice that Jerry had the good sense to smile, not glower in his mugshot. Never let the bastards see you sweat.

I obviously have to post a version of Truckin’ at this juncture. This is a good ‘un complete with tight musicianship and sloppy vocals, both trademarks of the good old Grateful Dead:

Let’s move on to a sporadic Odds & Sods feature:

Separated At Birth? I added a question mark because I’m not 100% sure this works but it cracked me up when I saw it on the Tweeter Tube.

Instead of being leery of the idea, Leary responded without so much as a leer:

Just imagine it: Denis Leary in The Bowling Green Massacre. He really needs to wear Kellyanne Liar’s inauguration day outfit:

conway-meme

Let’s move from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Saturday Classic: I posted the Queen of Soul earlier, it’s time to listen to the King of Soul, Otis Redding. Note that the album begins with Ole Man Trouble. It has nothing to do with the Insult Comedian but we do have more than our share of trouble right now.

That’s it for this week. We’ll be back with more hijinks and shenanigans next week. Who better to have the last word than three Jokers? Heath, Jack, and Cesar beat the hell out of the joker in the White House. Figuratively, not literally.

jokers-memejpg

Wingnut Mailbag: On Wisconsin Edition

Clarke

For some reason, I’m on Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s email list. I’m not quite sure why. It shouldn’t have anything to do with my making fun of Clarke last fall, but it might. All publicity is good publicity to the likes of Clarke. Trumpers love to be trumpeted.

I’m getting a perverse thrill at poaching on Scout, Doc, and A’s turf but I suspect they don’t mind. I’d rather not be getting wingnut email from the Clarkites but I am. So it goes.

Sheriff Clarke is looking to 2018. He could run for re-election but his approval rating is even lower than Trump’s: an abysmal 31%. Milwaukee County is a Democratic stronghold, which is why he’s nominally a Democrat. Clarke is even less popular among Democrats at home: only 13% of Dems want him re-elected. That’s why he’s likely to change parties and challenge Senator Tammy Baldwin.

The aforementioned  fundraising emails combine homophobia, sexism, and wingnut lunacy. On January 30th, Team Clarke sent an email entitled Arrest Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Hey, at least they used her title. Here’s a sample of the ravings therein:

Liberal lesbian Tammy Baldwin is aiding and abetting ISIS. She is working to stop President Donald Trump’s ban on terrorist refugees. Tammy Baldwin is more concerned about protecting the safety of ISIS members than she is about the security of the United States. It is clear that Tammy Baldwin doesn’t care that many of the refugees have plans to attack America. Tammy Baldwin belongs in prison! She is a traitor to our country!

Fun fact: a group called Restore American Liberty sent the email. It’s located in Denver, Colorado. Clarke might call it federalism, I call it carpetbaggery.

The ironically named Restore American Liberty has sent me the same email three days in a row. You’d think they’d get tired of repeating themselves, but wingnuts are simple people. Here’s another passage:

Sheriff David Clarke can win! He can defeat leftist lesbian Tammy Baldwin in the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race! If elected, he will work to secure the borders and ban Muslim immigration. Unlike Tammy Baldwin, Sheriff David Clarke supports balancing the budget, protecting the Second Amendment, and defending the right to life. 

Liberal lesbian Tammy Baldwin needs to be defeated! She is a radical pro-abortion, open borders Democrat. She supports higher taxes, gun control, and expanding ObamaCare. America needs Sheriff David Clarke to defeat her!

Wealthly LGBT donors from Hollywood, San Francisco, and New York are going to spend millions in support of Tammy Baldwin. It is crucial that grassroots conservatives fight back!

Wealthly? Don’t these bozos spell check? Of course, their target audience is knuckledraggers who read about as much as the Insult Comedian. Trump, of course, would say that Sheriff Clarke is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice. If you think I’m obsessed with that gobsmacker of a sentence, check out N Todd’s joint, Dohiyi Mir.

My unsolicited advice to Wisconsinites: get over the Packers loss and go to work supporting “leftist liberal lesbian” Tammy Baldwin. The helots are coming for her. If it’s not David Clarke, they’ll find another challenger. It’s an example of why our voters need to turn out for EVERY ELECTION. The country you save may be your own.

Save One

We are arguing about how much of the house is on fire, with the refugee/immigrant ban. We are arguing closet versus attic versus living room, instead of picking up a damn bucket and putting the fire out:

President Trump and his aides love to cite a small number and a big number in order to minimize the impact of the president’s executive order suspending the visas of citizens of seven countries.

But these figures are incredibly misleading, so let’s go through the math.

Let’s not, because it doesn’t fucking matter. I don’t care if this executive order affected one person.  I don’t care if this hadn’t affected ANYONE yet. In no possible world are any of our laws tested constitutionally based on how many people they affect. That’s not the measurement. That’s not the qualifier. You don’t get to say well, we only screwed over a dozen immigrant kids, so until we get to triple digits we’re cool. That’s not how any of this works.

Our laws were not designed to save as many as possible. Our laws were designed to save us all, and that means saving one. One person. One child. One family. One mother or father or brother or sister. Our laws were designed to weigh us all, one against the other, and say no one of us is worth more than any of the others.

It’s why our presidents, our congressmen, are subject to our laws. It’s why you can bring suit against those holding the highest offices in the land. It’s why you and I can — or should be able to — avail ourselves of the same legal system as someone who got here last week.

And that includes potential terrorists, for all the wingnuts in the cheap seats. I know you all think life is a nonstop episode of 24 and if President Trump doesn’t personally electrode a Syrian dude’s balls in the Roosevelt Room then we’ll all die in a nuclear attack, but a) that is not how anything is going to happen and b) at no point would such a scenario be endangered by said Syrian dude invoking a right to counsel. If Trump is hooking jumper cables to his nethers he’s already figured out that nobody can hear him scream.

Meanwhile, the non-terrorist families that just want to come here, get jobs, spend money at the local Wal-Mart and watch American TV are going to get handcuffed and deported back to the places we explicitly encouraged them to flee, and you’ll pardon me if I don’t want to wait until they’re a certain percentage of travelers or if they’re especially promising at geometry or any of the other bullshit narratives that have sprung up in the past 72 (holy shit, only 72) hours.

They’re human beings, and we are America. Let’s not go through the math.

A.

Bannon’s B3 Brownshirts & The Chaos Principle

It’s official: Donald Trump had the worst first week of any President* in American history. It was so bad that I debated with a friend as to whether he was already the worst ever. I still think it’s too early to tell since Buchanan and W are responsible for wars and economic calamity. Trump hasn’t passed Andrew Johnson either BUT he’s building a strong case for worst ever and he’s only been at it for 10 days. I don’t think our cause benefits from hyperbole and overstatement. You can only fight lies with the truth and delusion with reality.

I admitted the other day to knowing very little about higher maths. I have, however, heard of the Chaos Principle:

Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on.

It looks like Steve Bannon and his B3 Brownshirts are inspired by the Chaos Principle, at least by analogy. Team Trump is trying to inject so much chaos and confusion into our polity that repression will be required to maintain order. I seriously doubt if the Insult Comedian himself has such a plan: all he ever does is wing it without thought to the implications. Bannon, however, has emerged as first among equals in the West Wing. He’s capable of complex, devious, and downright evil thought. Bannon has Trump’s ear and the Dear Leader Wannabe seems to agree with the last person he spoke to.

In short, Bannon and his fellow white nationalists want to create the circumstances in which a right-wing revolution is possible. Those circumstances do not currently exist. Bitching about the government is as American as apple pie, it doesn’t amount to instant homegrown fascism. That is definitely a long-term threat but we have the mechanisms to stop it: people power and lawyers, lawyers, lawyers. Political courage on the part of elected officials seems to be in short supply but the longer this constitutional crisis lasts the bolder they will become. Talk of collaboration with the Trumpers has become much less common since they came to power.

The good news is that Team Trump’s Muslim ban was issued without co-ordination with the agencies obliged to enforce it and they didn’t even run it by their own lawyers. That makes it eminently susceptible to legal challenge. It was, apparently, pulled out of Rudy Noun Verb 9/11’s ass:

I’ll tell you the whole history of it. So when he first announced it he said, “Muslim ban.” He called me up and said, “Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.” I put a commission together with Judge Mukasey, with Congressman McCaul, Pete King, a whole group of other very expert lawyers on this. And what we did was we focused on, instead of religion, danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us. Which is a factual basis. Not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible, and that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.

That is, of course, nonsense. The order discriminates against people because of their religion, and all the lies in the world won’t change that. The fact that an exception was made for Christians from the affected countries is proof of discriminatory intent as is Giuliani’s need to brag about his role in the ban. He’s really turning into his master. Giuliani’s success in masterminding the Comey coup has gone to his head, and he was already a raging egomaniac. This is terrific evidence for the legal eagles to pounce on. Thanks, Rudy. I can imagine Justice Anthony Kennedy’s head spinning as I write this. I am as likely to vote Republican as he is to uphold this executive order if it reaches SCOTUS.

This policy is based on Islamophobic fantasies, not reality. That’s a recurring theme for Team Trump’s Bannon wing. In addition to the Chaos Principle, they believe in what one might call the Goebbels corollary: the bigger the lie, the more believable it is. This is propaganda, not spin. The MSM is finally showing signs of coming to grips with that. It’s a pity that they didn’t do so during the late campaign. The MSM and the “Clinton is just as bad as Trump” crowd bear a lot of responsibility for the mess we find ourselves in. I hope the Steiners and Busters enjoyed the events of this weekend. They have a share of the blame. I may “Nazi punch” the next purity troll who tells me their vote didn’t matter because they were in a red state or some other lame excuse. Every vote in every election matters.

The Trumpers have clearly overreached. The order placing Steve Bannon on the National Security Council is the best example I can think of. That body has been moribund for many years BUT excluding the Director of National Intelligence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sends a dangerous signal that Steve Bannon is running the show. It doesn’t get much worse than that but the order’s impact is symbolic for now. For now. That’s always the rub with this crowd.

One thing I’ve noticed about Bannon and his B3 Brownshirts is that they admire Soviet-style tactics. They’ve done some things that Stalin would have applauded such as placing what amounts to “political commissars” at cabinet departments and agencies. This sort of convergence of the far left and extreme right doesn’t surprise me at all.  This creeping Sovietism/Putinism is also reflected by their Holocaust remembrance day proclamation. It’s the first time an American administration has referred to the Holocaust without mentioning Jews. They’re pandering to the Holocaust denialists and minimizers. What’s next? An invitation for Davids Irving and Duke to visit the White House? Nothing would surprise me in the Chaos Principle era.

The one piece of advice I have for the nascent anti-Trump movement is to pace yourselves. The world is a complicated place and it cannot be changed in a day. This is going to be a long, hard slog and burn-out is a risk. Make sure to do whatever it is you do for fun It’s a lesson that New Orleanians learned during the post-Katrina/Federal Flood era. We were widely criticized for having Carnival in 2006. We knew better. It was necessary for our collective mental health. We continued rebuilding and pressuring the local, state, federal government for assistance but we took time out to enjoy life. It’s something that we can teach the rest of the country. There *is* a constitutional crisis now but stopping it won’t be helped by freaking out. Instead of freaking out: become better informed about American political history, and organize, organize, organize.

Vive les Maquis.

Quote Of The Day: Rude Pundit Edition

I somehow missed this a few weeks back but it’s still an unforgettable quote about Trump’s so-called forgotten people:

What you’re calling “elitism” is just simply not being ignorant. We don’t have our heads shoved up Jesus’s ass. And when the left gets angry because of how fucking dumb some of the shit coming out of rural and red mouths is, we’re told we need to understand what they believe. No, we’re just gonna say that stupid is stupid.

You can stop explaining the white working class rural conservative Christian farming folk, hot-takers and self-justifiers. Instead, why don’t you explain liberalism to them? Why don’t you explain that jobs are drying up and communities are dying not because of abortion and same-sex marriage but because of Republican economic policies that have favored the wealthy, most of whom live in cities, including a certain president-elect they voted for who took advantage of those very policies in order to stay rich? Ultimately, though, it won’t matter. Because despite every fucking word to the contrary, the real problem is that those who voted for Trump are racist. They are sexist. They are Islamophobic. They are ignorant.

The whole thrust of these “let’s learn about the yokels” articles is to imply that there are real Americans and there are coastal elites. Sorry, motherfuckers. We’re all Americans. And if I have to suffer under your stupid, you have to hear about our smarts.

The worst thing about the “empathize with the stupid” crowd is that most of them wouldn’t know a trailer park from a parking lot. The Rude Pundit is from that background. I’m not but I choose to bask in the glow of his reflected glory. I also live in the Deep South and have met my share of Trump’s so-called forgotten people; many of whom are unforgettable in a non-Nat King Cole kind of way.

Bigotry and willful ignorance are never acceptable. Neither is pandering to the 1/3 or so of Trump voters who are the genuine deplorables described by the winner of the popular vote. They’re the ones who chanted “lock her up” and “build the wall” during the late campaign. The only way to win over the worst of the worst is to abandon what the Dudebro alt-left calls “identity politics.” I am unwilling to abandon people of color, feminists, religious minorities, and the LGBTQ community.  I agree with the Rude One that we need a to do a better job explaining ourselves. One thing I am certain of is that Cafeteria Trumpism won’t work just as Reaganism with a Human Face did not work.

In honor of the Rude Pundit, I’ll give the early and very clean-cut Wailers the last word:

 

What You’re Called

I don’t have a nickname. I mean, I have things not my formal name that people call me, ranging from “hey, when am I gonna get that thing you said you’d get me” to “Mama,” but I don’t have a shortened version of my name. Maybe because my parents didn’t give me one, so I grew up using my full name always, and s0 when I was old enough to notice, I didn’t want one.

Mr. A, when we were dating, called me “Allie” once. Once. I told him I didn’t like it, and he stopped.

That’s what I always come back to whenever the OMG POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS RUINING MY ABILITY TO USE THE WORLD debate starts up again. (Don’t throw the Campus Wymyn’s Center in my face. There are like six of those people, and unlike half of Congress they hurt nobody.) It’s about determining what you want to be called. We ask it a hundred times a day: What’s your name? We abide by what we’re told.

If I don’t want to be called something, and I tell you that, why do you continue to say it? If I say, I prefer you address me as X, why do you say Y? To save yourself the embarrassment of learning? Is your saving face worth more than my name?

To bully? To be mean? I keep reading these stories in which middle class white women who voted for Trump talk about how all the race talk they’ve been hearing makes them uncomfortable and discomfort is the WORST SIN OF ALL TIME and why can’t people just put up and shut up again, now, forever.

Do they not understand how rude they’re being, not calling someone by their name? They’d correct you if you called them Miss and they were married. But correct them that you’re African-American instead of black, Asian instead of Oriental, and suddenly you’re trampling their right to whatever … and I know it’s tiresome taking that argument apart but these are the same types of women who raised you and me to never be rude. Could it possibly be persuasive to talk in terms of politeness? Is that something we might still all understand?

It’s rude not to call someone by their name.

What is your name? Did you choose it? Could you choose it? Has anyone ever tried to call you anything else?

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Of Adrastos 2016

Nighthawks

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

It’s time to take a look back at 2016. It may be an exercise in egotism but it’s mine, all mine. Last year’s best of Adrastos was a top thirty list, this year we have a plus-one. Sounds like a dinner party, doesn’t it? It’s time to belly-up to the buffet…

2016 was a good year for satire, but a terrible year for the country. And I was a better pundit than prognosticator. So it goes.

Here’s this year’s crop of posts in chronological order:

January 7, 2016: The Fog Of History: The Wallace Factor.

January 16, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Black Tie White Noise.

February 27, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: All The Things You Are.

March 28, 2016: The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Grace Coolidge’s Pet Raccoon.

March 28, 2016: Charles Foster Kane Meets Donald Trump.

March 31, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: John Milkovich (Not Malkovich)

April, 18, 2016: Oy, Such A Mentor

April 21, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: Jeff Weaver.

May 7, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: They All Laughed.

May 18, 2016: Speaking In Dudebromides.

June 3, 2016: Trump Violates The First Rule Of Litigation.

June 13, 2016: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited.

June 29, 2016: A Fatal Lack Of Cunning & Guile.

July 11, 2016: Jill Stein: Crunchy Granola Machiavelli.

July 29, 2016 DNC Wrap Up Finale: She Won’t Stay Throwed.

August 18, 2016: Heckuva Job, Advocate.

August 18, 2016: The Insult Comedian’s Not For Turning.

August 22, 2016: Every Flim-Flam Man Needs A Sucker.

September 8, 2016: Is Trump Really Running For Grand Nagus?

September 17, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Birdland.

October 4, 2016: Instant Analysis: The Debate As Altman Film.

October 6, 2016: Absence Of Malice.

October 10, 2016: Breitbart-Bannon-Bossie Man.  Bloggers Note: This post was included by Batocchio in the Jon Swift Roundup 2016. 

October 17, 2016: Moe’s Wife Blames Larry.

November 2, 2016: Out Of Control FBI Playing By The Clinton Rules.

November 10, 2016: Sitting Political Shiva.

November 11, 2016: Confessions Of A Keyboard Maquis.

November 16, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: New Orleans Baby Cakes.

November 17, 2016: The Most Dangerous Game. 

December 1, 2016: Louisiana Politics: A Terrible Candidate For Terrible Times.

December 12, 2016: Hayes/Smith: Only Victims.

That’s it for 2016. It’s been a tough year but we’re still alive and kicking. I’ll give the last word to two guys we’re really going to miss:

obama-kerry-meme

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: End Of The World

 

wyatt-6

Sideshow banner by Snap Wyatt.

We’re riding a weather roller coaster here in New Orleans. I hate roller coasters and prefer consistent weather as long as it’s vaguely wintery be it Johnny or Edgar…

I’m still fighting a cold so this will be on the short side. I know, famous last words and all that shit.

I’m not feeling apocalyptic but many people are. I cannot blame them. It’s hard to be a glass half-full person right now and this week’s theme song reflects that. End Of The World was written by John Wetton and Geoff Downes for Asia’s 2010 Omega album. The melody is a bit too gorgeous for a truly apocalyptic feel but that’s what they do.

While we’re ending the world, we might as well give a certain REM tune with a very long title a spin:

If you’re feeling apocalyptic now, you might want to be patient. It’s bound to take longer than expected. Everything does.

Don’t worry. We’ll still be waiting after the break. The world isn’t going anywhere for the time being.

Continue reading

Trump Really Dragged Down the Republican Party

This is what was happening when Obama got elected. The first time: 

After Obama won the presidency in defiance of these racial headwinds, traffic to the white-supremacist website Stormfront increased sixfold. Before the election, in August, just before the Democratic National Convention, the FBI uncovered an assassination plot hatched by white supremacists in Denver. Mainstream conservative publications floated the notion that Obama’s memoir was too “stylish and penetrating” to have been written by the candidate, and found a plausible ghostwriter in the radical (and white) former Weatherman Bill Ayers. A Republican women’s club in California dispensed “Obama Bucks” featuring slices of watermelon, ribs, and fried chicken. At the Values Voter Summit that year, conventioneers hawked “Obama Waffles,” a waffle mix whose box featured a bug-eyed caricature of the candidate. Fake hip-hop lyrics were scrawled on the side (“Barry’s Bling Bling Waffle Ring”) and on the top, the same caricature was granted a turban and tagged with the instructions “Point box toward Mecca for tastier waffles.” The display was denounced by the summit’s sponsor, the Family Research Council. One would be forgiven for meeting this denunciation with guffaws: The council’s president, Tony Perkins, had once addressed the white-supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens with a Confederate flag draped behind him. By 2015, Perkins had deemed the debate over Obama’s birth certificate “legitimate” and was saying that it “makes sense” to conclude that Obama was actually a Muslim.

So let’s have no more discussion about how this year’s RNC was terrible and this year’s GOP campaign was terrible in ways never before seen or anticipated, and that these things were newly unhinged. The hinges rusted off this shit years ago.

A.

Oy, Such A Force

May the Schwartz Be With You.

Oy, such Spaceballs nuttiness.

I’ve been walking the anti-Semitism beat all year. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the revival of open anti-Semitism is one of the most alarming things about the so-called Trump movement. This Thirties revival, if you will, has inspired the silly along with the sinister:

White supremacists are calling for a boycott of the latest “Star Wars” movie as evidence of a Jewish plot to foist racial diversity on whites, even as some on the “alt-right” say they watch the film and root for the evil Empire.

“(((Star Wars))) Is Anti-White Social Engineering,” a Reddit user named GenFrancoPepe posted in a forum for the “alt-right,” a hard-line white nationalist movement. The triple parenthesis, known as an “echo,” is a way anti-Semites online call attention to Jewish names or perceived Jewish influence.

The evidence: “Alt-right” writers point out the multiracial makeup of the stars in the new film, the female starring role, and that Jewish producers and writers were involved. Criticism of the film evokes one of the central tropes of modern anti-Semitism, envisioning a Jewish cabal promoting multiculturalism to suit its own nefarious goals — at the expense of an embattled “white civilization.”

One writer at the neo-Nazi site Infostormer called “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” slated to be released this month, a product of “anti-white hate” produced by Jews. “Nearly all of the major characters are non-Whites and the main character is an empowered White female,” the post reads. “This film should be boycotted.”

Is there a Jewish influence on the series? Yes. Is it sinister? No. Is it a plot? No, as pointed out in an earlier piece at Forward by Seth Rogovoy:

You don’t have to be a linguist to figure out that the Jedi knights, who use “the Force” – the spiritual power of good deeds, aka the mitzvot — to do good in their battle with the “Dark Side” – the yetzer hara, or the evil urge within us all – bear the Anglicized name of a Jew. In other words, jedi = yehudi = Jew. And the name of the wise old man Yoda, who passed away at the very Biblical age of 900 in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi” and who was voiced by Jewish actor-director Frank Oz, translates as “one who knows” in Hebrew.

Philologists have argued, on the other hand, about just what the very Hebrew-looking writing on Darth Vader’s breastplate says. It’s been surmised to be upside-down Hebrew that translates as “One shall be regarded innocent until he is proven guilty,” which of course fits the character of Vader and his true identity.

None of this was lost on filmmaker Mel Brooks, whose 1987 “Star Wars” parody “Spaceballs” relied on Brooks’s usual Yiddish-shtick humor, including the catchphrase, “May the Schwartz be with you.”

Mel Brooks is always there with the joke first. I guess that makes him one of the main conspirators in the alt-right’s Protocols of the Elders of Star Wars world view. I wonder if the farting scene in Blazing Saddles has a deeper meaning? Conspiracy theories and theorists are hot in Wingnuttia right now. Another alarming thing about Donald Trump is his love of conspiracy theories, the nuttier the better, such as birtherism. The MSM may have moved on from that but I have not. As far as I’m concerned the Insult Comedian will always be the birther-in-chief as well as the pussy-grabber-in-chief.

As funny as conspiracy theories cooked up by the Reddit Right and Alex Jones are, they can be lethal when paired with an unhinged mind as in the recent “Pizzagate” shootings at Washington City. Some ideas *can* be dangerous and must be fought with the facts. There is no child sex ring linked to Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. A variation on that bizarre claim even showed up in the creepier sectors of the hard left during the primary campaign.

The far right and left have always had more similarities than people on our side of the spectrum are willing to admit. It’s why so many hardcore lefties have moved to the far right over the years: notorious Islamophobe David Horowitz is a relatively recent example, but it’s an old story. The 1950’s red scare was partially fueled by Communists turned McCarthyites. So it goes.

Speaking of the neo-Nazi far right, there was firestorm of controversy this week in response to an Atlantic article, Are Jews White? The erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer, of course, chimed in:

Humor is the best way to attack Dukkke’s nonsense and here’s the best example I’ve seen:

Oy, such logic. It’s hard to beat, right? I know more than a few Jewish Deadheads and prog-rock fans as well. What’s whiter than British prog rock? Perhaps I’ve Seen All Good People is a plot against the white race by self-loathing honkies. Let’s see:

I am obviously an exponent of using humor to combat bigotry.Ridicule has long been an effective weapon against hatred and intolerance. And I’m not going to abandon it just because an Insult Comedian won the electoral college in 2016. Trump’s reaction to satire shows how effective it is. He keeps slamming Alec Baldwin’s bang-on impression of him. It’s not how it’s supposed to work: Presidents get mocked and even the humor-impaired Tricky Dick was able to publicly take a joke. I don’t think Trump will ever learn to take a joke. It’s what happens when you are one.

It’s time to conclude this rambling essay and give the penultimate word to Mel Brooks as Yogurt:

Oy, such a schwartz. Oy, such a farce. Oy such a force. Oy, just oy.

Doctor makes “monkey face” comment about Michelle Obama. Outraged? Yes. Shocked? Nope.

In the days after the presidential election, people have tried to parse the reasons for the rise of Trump and how racism will awaken from the dark, like it’s the Force or something.

The current narrative has gone in one of two directions, both of which seem to land on the same group: Rural, uneducated white people. In one version of this, it was an economic/culture issue that led rural whites to see Trump as a savior. This is something Trump has been playing up in Indiana this week, where he courageously threw money at Carrier to only lose some U.S. manufacturing jobs. In short, it’s about the work and the country mouse/city mouse divide.

The second version is racism, although it pretty much lands on the same basic group: Rural, uneducated white people. This narrative pushes out the concept that Trump tapped into that vein of racism that flows through the heartland like melted butter and stoked fears of Muslims, Mexicans and African-Americans. It was these simple-minded rubes who turned out in droves to “Make America Great Again” in hopes of getting back to that simpler time when all you needed to know about minorities is how many fifths of a person they counted for.

The stats bear out a lot of both of those elements, although more of the first than the second. Of course, the main problem is that you don’t get to take your alleged job creator without his side order of racism, something many people overlooked in their race to the bottom.

The second problem is that when it comes to racism, sexism and other “isms,” it’s not as simple as population density or if you’ve ever seen a building taller than three stories before.

Dr. Michelle Herren, an anesthesiologist and University of Colorado professor, came under fire this week for posting racist comments about Michelle Obama. Herren called the First Lady a “monkey face” said she spoke in “poor ebonic English.” Naturally, she followed that up with “There! I feel better and am still not racist!!! Just calling it like it is!”

I don’t know what was supposed to convince readers more that she wasn’t racist, the heavy use of exclamation points or the “calling it like it is” thing. The person who turned her in to Denver Health and the board of regents said she was shocked and outraged by Herren’s comments. Herren is now on a leave of some kind until the hospital can figure out what to do with her/the fervor dies down and she can slink back to work.

The media reporting on this has listed her title, her salary ($363,000 a year) and her education, in what I’m assuming is a way to let people know, “Wow, look at this! This really SMART and RICH lady is even saying shit like this.”

I was outraged as well to see comments like this, but shocked? Not a chance.

I’m uncertain as to what people think makes someone who has a medical degree less of an asshole on any front. I guess we could hope that people with higher levels of finance and education are more likely to become cultured and worldly, thus giving them a better perspective on race and class.

A few recent media pieces have demonstrated that, no matter who you are or where you are, racism lives among us. John Oliver’s look at gentrified schools shows that these dividing lines in the North were given a pass when the Civil Rights Act was passed.

Trevor Noah and Tomi Lahren went at it this week about racism and Trump. Although the media notes that Noah “owns” her or whatever, if you watch the whole interview, he really didn’t. It reminded me of the Hagler-Leonard fight in which you saw Hagler punching hard, but for some reason, Leonard kept holding his own on the scorecards. (She’s got a college degree from UNLV, which obviously isn’t the reason she’s such a YouTube star. She might be the first woman a Republican jerked off to on a computer without turning the sound down.)

Christopher Caldwell’s piece on what I’d like to call the Control-Alt-Delete-Right showcases the spectrum of education and nuance in this scary-as-shit movement:

There are many such groups, varying along a spectrum of couth and intellect. Mr. Spencer, who dropped out of a doctoral program at Duke and worked, briefly, as an editor for The American Conservative, has his own online review, Radix Journal. The eloquent Yale-educated author Jared Taylor, who hosts the American Renaissance website and magazine, was at the conference, too. Kevin MacDonald, a retired psychology professor whose trilogy on Jewish influence is a touchstone for the movement, also came.

None of this excuses the bigger picture of people who spray paint swastikas on kids’ lockers or do the “hail Trump” salute. However, there’s enough shitty behavior to cover the people with Stars N Bars bumper stickers on their rusty truck and those who take a Lexus to the hospital, but won’t take an elevator with a black orderly.

Or as my father, a man with a tech-school degree, was fond of saying: “Educated doesn’t necessarily mean smart.”

Malaka Of The Week: Konni Burton

A lot of things have fallen through the cracks of my mind lately because of the electoral college disaster. There’s a backlash brewing across the country against the progress that has been made on civil rights issues in recent years. To be more specific, against the remarkable gains made since 2008 on LGBTQ issues. One might even call it a lavender backlash. Yeah, I know, the term is retro but so is the backlash itself. You won’t be surprised to hear that one locus of the backlash is Texas. And that is why Texas State Senator Konni Burton is malaka of the week.

I was blissfully unaware of what was brewing in Austin until a tweet from Tim Peacock hit my timeline, which led me to a post at his blog, Peacock Panache:

As the state legislative session in Texas begins, state Senator Konni Burton (R) just filed legislation that would force schools to out LGBTQ students to their parents. SB242 takes aim at “the right of a child ’s parent to public school records and information concerning the child” on the surface. Under that veneer, however, Burton’s explicit intentions in filing the legislation are clear.

The bill was filed with the intention of subverting rules proposed by the Fort Worth Independent School District aimed at protecting the privacy rights of LGBTQ teens, especially transgender kids. It’s trickier than that so take a deeper dive into Tim Peacock’s piece.

Senator Burton claims that the intent of her bill is to provide parents with information about their children. It is, of course, a smokescreen (Konni job?) as is typical of so much discriminatory legislation. Haters not only have to hate, they have to hide behind family values rhetoric. Burton’s bill will effectively out LBGTQ students and that is what matters, not her increasingly strident disclaimers.

The implications of Malaka Konni’s bill are ominous and clearly stated by Tim Peacock:

As any LGBTQ person can confirm, keeping sexual orientation and gender identity/expression a secret from parents may literally be a matter of life or death. While society has made significant leaps forward in ensuring families with LGBTQ children are at a minimum tolerant, many areas of the and many belief systems still view being LGBTQ as wrong or criminal. Unwittingly outing a LGBTQ child or teenager to his or her parents can have devastating and sometimes lethal consequences.

If a student is transgender the chances of harm based on outing grow exponentially. A 2011 survey found that transgender people attempted to commit suicide at rates over 30 times the general population. And the causation behind that more often than not was discrimination, violence and/or rejection by those close to them.

While suicide is at the far end of the spectrum, LGBTQ students face a myriad of other consequence in having their identities unwittingly exposed to their parents including verbal and physical abuse, homelessness (after being kicked out) and involuntary conversation therapy (a practice condemned by the medical and psychological community though it’s still popular among anti-LGBTQ conservatives).

A quick reminder that Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire has been a leading advocate of conversion therapy.

I recall reading some articles earlier this year about how our side had won the culture war. Since I live in a blue dot in a deep red state, I’m always skeptical of such claims. In the Gret Stet of Louisiana, socially conservative Catholics have an unholy alliance on such issues with Protestant biblethumpers. Like the people in Texas, we’re always on the lookout for crazy, retrograde legislation from our lege. It’s going to get worse after Trump’s electoral college victory. I eagerly await the backlash to the backlash. Now I’m feeling whiplashed, he said snidely.

I’d never heard of Senator Burton before her attempted Konni job. I hope to rarely hear of her in the future. If the people of Texas are lucky, she’s merely a malakatudinous comet streaking across the sky before crashing and burning. BTW, Burton was elected to replace Wendy Davis in the Texas Senate. That seat has gone from pink sneakers to lavender backlash in two years. And that is why Konni Burton is malaka of the week.

Tweet Of The Day: Pho Neo-Nazi Edition

tila-tequila

One reason I’m a faithful TPM reader is that I learn new things there, even those I’d prefer NOT to learn. Today for example, I read about the so-called Alt-Right meeting at Washington City this weekend. It was the first time I’d ever heard of Tila Tequila who is a singer and reality show type. She’s a N-list celebrity: N is for neo-Nazi. More shockingly, her real name is Thien Thanh Thi Nguyen. That’s right, a Vietnamese-American neo-Nazi. Hence the pho in the title. That delicious soup/stew is pronounced fuh. The tweet below made me want to say pho you to Tila:

I wonder if Richard Spencer has made her an honorary Aryan yet. I seem to recall Ribbentrop and Hitler doing racial backflips when they formed an alliance with Japan. Btw, Ms. Tila: Japan was one of the imperial powers that occupied your homeland. So much for Vietnamese nationalism.

There’s a large, lively Vietnamese community in New Orleans East. They tend to be conservative Catholics: the accidental former GOP Congressman Joseph Cao is a good example of their politics. Conservative but not nutty. I don’t think there are many white nationalist neo-Nazis among them. The mind reels at the thought, y’all.

Apparently, Tila Tequila has been an ardent Hitler fan for some time according to her wikipedia entry

In December 2013, Nguyen caused controversy by posting an article on her website titled “Why I Sympathize with Hitler: Part I”, although she stated that her views on Hitler were not derived from antisemitism on her part, nor any feelings toward Jewish people. Nguyen stated:

For those of you who focus on the victims of war well that is just part of war. What do you think war is about? People DIE in wars that is why I am against wars. It brought me to tears because I used to think all of those horrible things about him [Hitler] until I learned the truth about the war and what Hitler truly did and he was not a bad person as they have painted him out to be. Here is a man who was not a coward, stood up for his country in a DESPERATE TIME OF NEED (unlike all of our cowardly leaders), and yet not only did he try his best to help his country and people get out of what was a time of depression, economic collapse, high unemployment, amongst many other things.[61]

Honorary white person, neo-Nazi, and amateur historian. Tila is quite a piece of work. She also attacked the right-wing journalist Ben Shapiro after he quit Breitbart in protest of its Trumpiness:

…on May 6, 2016, Nguyen tweeted that Jewish-American political commentator Ben Shapiro should “be gassed and sent back to Israel” and later posted that “There are only two things in this world, for which I would gladly sacrifice my own life; the destruction of all Jews and preservation of the white race” and “You know what will help Asians earn respect? An Asian version of Adolf Hitler… I want that person to be me; I want to save the world from this Zionist disease.”[65]

.Onslow 2

This is what the country is up against now that Trump won the electoral college and the B3 Brownshirts plan to make the West Wing part of the even Whiter House.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders wants to take over a party he does not belong to and oblige it to “abandon identity politics.” The Independent Senator from one of the least diverse states in the country remains convinced that the Trumpenproletariat did not vote for him out of prejudice. I remain convinced that he is wrong, and that to follow his line is to abandon support for those female, black, brown, and Asian working class folks who voted for Hillary Clinton. We need to stand up to bigotry, not make excuses for it. Vive les Maquis.

As for Tila Tequila, I’m glad she’s changed her name from the Vietnamese equivalent of Smith. I’m sorry that she’s a self-loathing Vietnamese-American who thinks that white nationalists will accept her people. Does she really believe Trumper xenophobia does not include Asians? It’s hard to tell whether it’s naivete or delusion but both are in oversupply in 2016.

Finally, I’d like to apologize for the pho pun. Sometimes I cannot help myself. I am, however, not sorry enough to remove it. I plan to eat more pho in penance for the pho you pun.

The Korematsu Case Revisited

korematsu

I remember very few papers I wrote as a college student. One exception is a paper about the horrific, anti-constitutional internment of the Japanese, including citizens, during World War II. It was an action initiated in panic by a racist Army General but ratified by some distinguished American liberals: President Roosevelt, Attorney General Francis Biddle, Justice Hugo Black, and then California Attorney General Earl Warren. It is a stain on all their memories and on American history. So much so that Congress and President Reagan formally apologized for internment in 1988. That right, Ronald Reagan knew it was wrong. There are ominous signs that the Trumpers do not.

TPM is usually the first political site I look at every morning. One headline was a real eye-opener, the textual equivalent of 2 cups of coffee, Trump Surrogate: Japanese Internment Camps A Precedent For Muslim Registry:

One of Donald Trump surrogate’s claimed Wednesday that the forced internment of Japanese Americans during World War II provided a “precedent” for the next administration creating a registry of Muslims living in the United States.

Carl Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and booster of the President-elect, told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that such a registry was necessary until “we can identify the true threat” posed by Islamic extremists.

“We have in the past,” Higbie said. “We have done it based on race, we have done it based on religion, we have done it based on region.”

<SNIP>

“It is legal. They say it’ll hold constitutional muster,” Higbie said of the registry. “I know the ACLU is going to challenge us, but I think it’ll pass. And we’ve done it with Iran back a while ago. We did it in World War II with Japanese, which, call it what you will—”

I call it bigotry. That’s what I call it. Targeting a religious minority is also an egregious violation of the First Amendment. I am, however, glad that barking mad Naval Seal mentioned the Bush years. They were not big on the constitution either. It *can* happen here. In fact, it already has.

I have a a few questions. Will the “Muslim registry” apply to citizens? Is this partial payback for Khizr Khan? Trump is capable of such petty vindictiveness, after all. Who’s going to restrain him? Rudy? Kris Kobach? Jared Kushner? Not bloody likely.

Back to the post title. The Supreme Court upheld the Japanese exclusion order in Korematsu v. United States in 1944. Fred Korematsu, an American citizen, was convicted of “violating the civilian exclusion order.” SCOTUS upheld his conviction in an opinion by Justice Hugo Black with three Justices in dissent: Stanley Roberts, Frank Murphy, and Robert Jackson. It was not one of Justice Black’s finest hours but Justice Jackson’s dissent rings true in the wake of the comments by that barking mad Navy Seal:

Korematsu was born on our soil, of parents born in Japan. The Constitution makes him a citizen of the United States by nativity, and a citizen of California by residence. No claim is made that he is not loyal to this country. There is no suggestion that, apart from the matter involved here, he is not law-abiding and well disposed. Korematsu, however, has been convicted of an act not commonly a crime. It consists merely of being present in the state whereof he is a citizen, near the place where he was born, and where all his life he has lived.
<SNIP>
Much is said of the danger to liberty from the Army program for deporting and detaining these citizens of Japanese extraction. But a judicial construction of the due process clause that will sustain this order is a far more subtle blow to liberty than the promulgation of the order itself. A military order, however unconstitutional, is not apt to last longer than the military emergency. Even during that period, a succeeding commander may revoke it all. But once a judicial opinion rationalizes such an order to show that it conforms to the Constitution, or rather rationalizes the Constitution to show that the Constitution sanctions such an order, the Court for all time has validated the principle of racial discrimination in criminal procedure and of transplanting American citizens. The principle then lies about like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.

I added the bold face for obvious reasons. Korematsu has been discredited but never overruled. It still “lies about like a loaded weapon.” If the Islamophobes have their way, the chamber will be reloaded with their so-called registry. If that happens, all good people should try their damnedest to sign the thing in solidarity with those being oppressed. What’s next? A Yellow Crescent?

Tweet Of The Day: Chutzpah Edition

I usually prefer not to take shots at people who are ostensibly on the same side but this was a bit too much for my taste.

Here’s my retweet with wry commentary by First Draft alumna, Southern Beale:

One could even call it a pipe dream.

I am disturbed by all the people who are in denial as to the nativist nature of the Trumpen-proletariat vote. There are even those who naively think they can be reached by criminal justice reform. 2016 was a classic backlash election like those of 1966 and 1968. The average blue-collar Trumper wants African-American defendants to rot in jail.

I am certainly no expert on rural white American voters, but neither are some of those acting as if they are:

One more point. I remain unconvinced that Bernie Sanders would have won the general election. I know some of you disagree.  Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald has a great piece about the oppo files the GOP assembled on Senator Sanders. It’s one of the few must-read post-election articles I’ve seen. Read Kurt’s piece and draw your own conclusions.

Finally, the Sanders forces are all in for Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota to be the next DNC Chairman. I just tweeted this out:

Sorry for the hanging comma. It would also be nice if Senator Sanders would join the party he wants to be led by one of his primary season supporters. Btw, Ellison was one of the first core Berners to support HRC so my problem with him is not based on that. The DNC needs a full-time chairperson who’s acceptable to all factions within the party. Ellison fits the second part of the bill but not the first one. Remember: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was a part-time chair.

I hadn’t planned to post again today but writing is my form of post-election therapy. If you’re in need of therapy, helping others always makes me feel better. That’s why you should consider donating to First Draft’s food pantry fund.

Ball Of Confusion

temptations-ball-of-confusion1

If you’re like me, you haven’t slept much in the last week. Yesterday was Dr. A’s birthday and I slept until 10:17 to be exact. She didn’t mind. We wound up cocooning after a busy Saturday that included a kid’s birthday party that was full of bright-eyed chirren and groggy adults. We all neded more coffee but drank Mimosas instead to dull the pain. In the evening, we went to a fancy benefit cocktail party: It was free for us but a friend paid for a table. I wound up having a  surprisingly good time (the open bar helped) but still wondered who voted for Trump and who was a potential Maquisard. It was strictly don’t ask, don’t tell. So it goes.

Athenae mentioned leaving her Clinton sign out as the indication of a safe house. We’ve done likewise. Given the anti-Semitic tone of the Trump campaign, it’s akin to painting lamb’s blood on our doors like the captive Jews of Egypt did for the first Passover. We’ve already sat political shiva, why not extend the analogy to a political Passover? We’re in for a hellish period wherein we need to keep our friends close and our enemies closer.

I’m not concerned about retribution in my corner of Uptown New Orleans. Our 13th Ward precinct voted 204-22 for Clinton over Trump. I feel, however, like I did after the 1991 Gret Stet Goober primary: when David Duke shocked everyone by advancing in a field that included the incumbent Governor who finished third. I guess I should don  a safety pin. It’s another reason to keep the “echoes” or “Jewish cowbells” around my Twitter handle. I want my friends to know what am I and I refuse to be cowed by my enemies.

I tried ignoring the news over the weekend. It worked okay until Sunday when I saw that the anti-Semite and white nationalist, Stephen Bannon will be on the White House staff as a senior adviser to the incoming Insult Comedian. I’m not surprised: it was Bannon’s racist strategy that won the electoral college victory. I remain horrified that the 21st Century personification of Gore Vidal’s M3 (Miller-Mailer-Manson Man,)  B3 (Breitbart-Bannon-Bossie Man) will work in the West Wing. A quick reminder of what I mean by B3

I realize that Breitbart, Bannon, and Bossie are much less distinguished than Miller and Mailer as well as less notorious than Manson. It’s a sign of the degeneration of our culture that B3 is standing-in for M3 but what can you do? The depressing thing is that 45 years after Gore Vidal wrote that classic essay the same sexist attitudes remain widespread. They, are, however, on the wane, but just as Barack Obama’s election brought all the racists out from under the woodpile, the probable election of our first female President has all the misogynists shooting their vile mouths off. It’s the downside of progress.

I got the probable President thing wrong but she will win the popular vote and receive more votes than any white male ever. That’s small consolation for the specter of B3 in the White House but it’s consolation nonetheless.

The other alarming news from Sunday was possible Propaganda Minister Kellyanne Conway threatening retiring Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid with litigation. It’s a free country, Frau Conway; for now at least. I guess it’s time for our side to talk about First Amendment people as opposed to the Second Amendment people the Insult Comedian threatened to sic on his opponent. I, for one, plan to remind people of those threats, which remain unacceptable even as many appear ready to  don brownshirts and collaborate will the Trumpers.

The parade of deplorables is too long to recount in this post. I refuse to believe *any* of the reassuring comments the Insult Comedian made on 60 Minutes. Con men tell people what they want to hear. It’s how they work their marks. He lied his way through the entire campaign, why should it be any different now that he’s won the electoral college?

Perhaps the most alarming thing is Trump’s plan to live part-time at the White House. I realize it may not be tacky and gaudy enough for him, but it’s the seat of executive power. That means Mike Pence will be running the show. Repeat after me:

trump-pence-meme

Things are so bad that I prefer the Flim-Flam Man to the True Believer. Better a Mountebank than an Ideologue.

That brings me back to the post title. It’s taken from the classic song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for the Temptations. The title has been shortened over time from Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today) but truer words were never spoken or sung. It was recorded in 1970 when Nixon was President but rings eerily true for 2016 and the incoming Insult Comedian who I’ve already called worse than Nixon.

I know what you’re thinking: we’re fucked. One way we can deal with the looming clusterfuck is by good-deed doing. That’s why you should consider donating to First Draft’s food pantry fund. Athenae has the details.

Where “Goddammit you fuckin’ guys” got us…

“You’re listening to me but you’re not understanding me.”
“No I’m disagreeing with you. That doesn’t mean that I’m listening to you or understanding what you’re saying. I’m doing all three at the same time.
– West Wing, In This White House

 

If we are going to get anywhere in this post, we need to start with a few basic understandings:

  • I do not like Donald Trump as a person, a candidate, a businessman, a leader or a human.
  • I voted for Hillary Clinton and it would be a cold day in Hell before I ever vote for Trump.
  • Anything said from this point forward should not be in any way construed as support, excuses, justification or approval for Trump or any action he has ever taken, including, but not limited to his sexist rants, his racist comments, his proclivities for sexual assault, his borderline-incest fascination with his daughter, his financial horrors or his moral compass.
  • Anything said from this point forward should not be construed as support, excuses, justification or approval for anyone who voted for him.

 

I spent the past few days trying to wrap my head around this election outcome and I figured out that I can’t. That bothers me because a) I’m an intellectual so I like knowing things and b) I’m a tinkerer, so I like solving problems.

Everyone who has written every concern about Donald J. Trump and the potential he has to fuck up every single institution in this country and turn us into Wolfenstein: The New Order is right. As far as journalism goes, these people have done everything perfectly in terms of explaining the Who, What, When, Where and How. What I’m trying to dig into is the “Why” aspect of this.

The problem with looking at “Why” is that it can be interpreted as agreement with or justification for choices.

I will be doing neither.

That said, if you don’t understand why something broke, you can’t figure out how to fix it. If you don’t take a look at the underlying aspects of something, you won’t understand its nature. Since most of the analysis has tried to look at the rural vote, I’m going to spend a lot of time picking at that.

And just like we would tell people who spent the last 19 months chanting “Lock Her Up,” we can’t get by with slogans or bumper-sticker answers.

This is going to hurt.

 

“I’m sure that’s important but I don’t want to tell some 8-year-old kid he has to sleep in the street because we want people to feel better about their car. Do you want to tell him that?”
– Dave

 

John Scalzi did a fantastic post titled, “The Cinemax Theory of Racism.” In it, he explains the fact that even people who say, “I’m not racist, but I voted for Trump” were essentially aiding and abetting racism anyway. The analogy is outlined here, but here’s the short-course version of it:

 

You want HBO, but the cable company says you can’t get it without buying Cinemax as well. You decide to purchase HBO and then you’re upset when people say you are also a Cinemax subscriber.

You can make all the arguments you want that you don’t plan to watch Cinemax, that you didn’t want Cinemax and that you have no love for Cinemax, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re a Cinemax subscriber.

Same deal with Trump: You may have bought him for the supposed economic policies and Making Greatness for Beloved State of America, but you also are a racism subscriber.

 

He’s right in both the analogy and the outcome: People who bought Trump have to live with being called out for it, no matter how unpleasant the word “racist” is to them. I wouldn’t like being called a lot of “ists” out there either. However, in looking at the rural vote that came out for Trump, it might be more instructive to try a second analogy along those same lines:

 

You are trapped on an island for 10 days with no outside help or system of support. On this island is a single bird that is the only source of sustenance that will allow you to survive.

Unfortunately for you, this is a rare bird, a one-of-a-kind, and by killing and eating it, you will be causing the extinction of this species and will be helping to destroy an ecosystem.

So, you eat the bird and live.

For the rest of time after your rescue, people tell you that you destroyed the environment.

But I was just trying to survive, you say.

The others say back, Uh huh… but you killed off a species. You destroyed an ecosystem.

But I didn’t have a choice, you say.

The others say back, I understand you feel that way, but you still eliminated the animal from our world and we’ll never see it again. Our world will never be the same again.

But it was do this or die, you say.

The others say back, well, you still made that choice. You better own it.

 

This is rural America. They feel isolated from the broader whole. They feel desperate to survive. They are trying to weigh out an immediate, real need against what they perceive to be an ethereal broader consequence. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us that starvation is going to trump higher-order thinking every day of the week.
I see three basic reasons for this:

  • Loss of local media: You can make the argument that the people in rural America get their information from Fox News and that assholes like Bill O’Reilly and Rudy Giuliani have fed them lies, distortions and false narratives. However the problem isn’t in what the national media is feeding them, but rather what local media isn’t anymore.
    Local newspapers are dying as paper costs more, journalism people don’t want to go out there and education is being shredded. You see buyouts, consolidation and other things that are eliminating newspapers throughout the rural areas. Those that remain are understaffed and overworked, leading to “easy” coverage on things like school plays and local parades.
    When local media in these towns meant something, people there learned from “people like them” what was going on with the local government, the school district and other similar things. They found out where their money was going and they could read about how things were in their area. That was all stuff they could get behind and at least understand: “My money will build a new school or buy a new fire truck. My kids can get a better education and my home won’t burn to the ground.”
    Now, these places get grouped into a larger “metro market” and get whatever Gannett paper is out there. None of the local news matters to them and the national news sucks, what little there is of it. So they turn to Fox or whatever Facebook feed their friends find interesting and, bam, you get a sense that nothing good is happening out there.
  • Realistic Conflict Theory and intergroup relations: Both analogies above (as well as thousands of others) create a dichotomy: You get X or Y. You buy the whole meal, no substitutions. In a broader view of this, it basically becomes a function of Realistic Conflict Theory: If you and I want the same cookie and either I get it or you get it, one of us is going to get something and the other isn’t. Trump did a brilliant job (and I hope to God that’s the last time I ever use the words “Trump” and “brilliant” in the same sentence…) of putting this out there for the voters who live in the rural areas. Kathy Cramer’s work on the rural people of Wisconsin makes this clear: People in the smaller towns and villages all over this state feel like all the good stuff goes to the Madisons and Milwaukees of the state while they get shit on. Can you make that argument? Absolutely. Is it perfect? Not at all. However, when you paint an “us versus them” picture, people will always close ranks with the “us folks” and research for generations has demonstrated that perfectly.
  • The lack of broader privilege: When we discuss privilege at the broader level, we talk about things like “white privilege” or “male privilege” and I’m not discounting or dismissing either of those. However, here’s an example of what I’m talking about:On a ballot a few elections ago, there was a referendum to raise property taxes locally for repairs and additions to the local high school. My child doesn’t attend the local school. None of her friends attend the local school. Nobody I know teaches or works at the local school.
    I voted for it anyway.
    My way of thinking was not about the $10 a year per thousand dollars of assessed value or whatever meant to my pocketbook. I saw value in the project, knew it would help people and just said yes. That’s a privilege I possess that a lot of people don’t.

    I would never cast my grandmothers into the “basket of deplorables,” but I know for sure they voted against helping schools, improving the library, paving some streets and a dozen other things that would have benefitted their small cities. They were fucking destitute, living on a tiny fraction of what I spend on car parts and furniture for the year.
    Every time I vote, I look at my vote in two ways: “How does it help me personally/my close family network?” And “How does this impact the bigger picture?” If I’m lucky, there’s a lot of overlap between the two and the vote is easy. In some cases, the Venn Diagram doesn’t really provide a lot of AB crossover, so I have to think about what I should do. I have that privilege. I can say, “Sure, Hillary might fuck me over a little here and there, but I can’t put a racist, sexist, homophobic asshole in charge of a hot dog cart, let alone the goddamned country.”
    Not everyone can look past immediate self-interest and buy the bigger picture.
    And Trump found a lot of those people.

 

 

“Don’t press your luck, funny man. And stop thinking everyone between Fifth Avenue and the Hollywood Bowl just stepped barefoot out of the cast of ‘Hee Haw.’ Tell your friends about it.”
– Studio 60, Nevada Day, Part II

 

Kathy Cramer has done some incredible work in Wisconsin as a political scientist, digging into the rural communities throughout the state and doing something that most of the pollsters and data crunchers don’t: She talked to people.

Researchers will argue that they talk to people all the time. So will journalists. Here’s the problem: They tend to parachute in, ask a bunch of questions, get some answers that support their ideas and evac out.

Cramer kept going back and going back and going back. She was like the Jane Goodall of the farming community in places that have fewer people than my high school.

This interview with her is spellbinding in so many ways, but the part that sticks with me right away is this quote:

“People felt that they weren’t getting respect. They would say: The real kicker is that people in the city don’t understand us. They don’t understand what rural life is like, what’s important to us and what challenges that we’re facing. They think we’re a bunch of redneck racists.”

Most of the talking heads spent the 48 hours after the election trying to parse one issue: Was this racism or classism? If you were on the Left, it was usually racism. If you were on the Right, it was usually classism.

Cramer’s research says it’s probably neither, but more of tribalism.

City Mouse versus Country Mouse.

Cramer talked at length about how her naiveté allowed her to start her work because had she known of the chasm of this divide, she probably would have been too scared to go to these places. Even as a white, Midwestern woman, she said there was a sense of “other” that emerged when she explained what she was doing and why:

They’re asking questions like, how often do I teach, what am I doing driving around the state Wisconsin when I’m supposed to be working full time in Madison, like, what kind of a job is that, right?

It’s not just resentment toward people of color. It’s resentment toward elites, city people. …

Part of where that comes from is just the overarching story that we tell ourselves in the U.S. One of the key stories in our political culture has been the American Dream — the sense that if you work hard, you will get ahead.

Well, holy cow, the people I encountered seem to me to be working extremely hard. I’m with them when they’re getting their coffee before they start their workday at 5:30 a.m. I can see the fatigue in their eyes. And I think the notion that they are not getting what they deserve, it comes from them feeling like they’re struggling. They feel like they’re doing what they were told they needed to do to get ahead. And somehow it’s not enough.

Oftentimes in some of these smaller communities, people are in the occupations their parents were in, they’re farmers and loggers. They say, it used to be the case that my dad could do this job and retire at a relatively decent age, and make a decent wage. We had a pretty good quality of life, the community was thriving. Now I’m doing what he did, but my life is really much more difficult.

I’m doing what I was told I should do in order to be a good American and get ahead, but I’m not getting what I was told I would get.

 

At one point, I was forced to calculate how many hours a day I “worked” as part of my job here at the U. Counting the newspaper, night-time grading, emails to kids off hours and other things like that, it came to something like 60-65 hours per week. Maybe it was a little more or less, but that was what I was coming up with for a month worth of counting.

Here’s the thing: I wouldn’t trade that for anything the people I live near do, no matter what.

I get to wear what I want to work. I can’t remember the last time I had to wear a uniform.

I can eat or pee whenever I feel like it. I don’t need to ask permission or have someone approve it.

I don’t have to punch in or punch out. As long as the work gets done, nobody gives a shit.

The biggest thing, though, is that I don’t come home dirty. Some days I feel mentally shot or brain dead, but I can sit on the couch right away without hearing, “Change your pants before you sit on the good sofa!”

When I worked in the garage, Mom used to make me strip in the yard and march my clothes down to the basement every day. They had to run my clothes through the wash without anyone else’s and we had to run an extra rinse cycle before we did the next load, for fear of damaging the rest of the laundry. I can’t tell you how many days I scarfed down my night meal in the kitchen in my skivvies and socks with clean hands, dirty arms and a naked torso.

When I go into the Kwik Trip in town for gas or a snack on the way to work, I see a lot of people I know do the same thing. The guys with dirt-caked boots, grease-stained Dickies and a worn-out baseball cap. The difference is, this is their life, not a summer job.

The other difference? I probably make three or four times what those guys make and the only surgery I’ve had to endure because of it was bilateral carpal tunnel.

I have friends with fused necks, fake knees and mangled fingers, courtesy of a life on a farm or in a garage.

This election, they came out for the promise of a better personal experience, even as those of us who make our livings on keyboards and televisions told them that Trump wasn’t their guy.

The Country Mouse roared.

 

 

“Let’s work the problem, people. Let’s not make things worse by guessing.”
– Gene Krantz, Apollo 13

 

I had a chance to sit down Thursday with one of the most insightful and emotionally worldly students I ever taught. She ticks almost all the boxes of things Trump has pissed on this election: She’s black, she’s gay, she’s from a large city, she’s been poor, she has relied on government assistance and she “doesn’t know her place.”

She is my fucking hero. She’s also on the verge of a mental breakdown.

We talked about all sorts of things today in hopes of getting her untracked as she comes ever closer to a December graduation.

Things got better for her at the end of the talk and so I said this:

“I want to ask you a question because you have a better sense of the world than I could ever hope to. If you don’t want to answer it, don’t. And don’t worry about it ever coming up again, but I need to know something if you can tell it to me.”

“Go ahead,” she said, not even flinching for a second.

“OK.” Deep breath. “In your lifetime, have you ever dealt with a straight-up moment or attack from an “ist?”

“Yes. Many times.”

“So here’s the question: How does that compare to how you felt Tuesday watching the election results?”

“A thousand times worse.”

That was exactly how I felt, a sense of betrayal. A sense that I thought I knew all these people who ended up perpetrating the one unforgivable sin.

The truth is, we didn’t.

The reason she felt worse, she told me, was because that old-fashioned, straight-up racism was at least honest. When you saw the guy with the Confederate Flag belt buckle, the “Go back to Africa” shirt and the words “White Power” tattooed down the backs of his arms, you knew that guy was an asshole. You could pick him out, and you stayed away from him. You had no expectations.

This election, we looked at people who we thought were “good people” and found out they cast a vote for someone who embodies everything that guy with the belt buckle displays.

Trump wasn’t a con in that regard. He didn’t hide it. It wasn’t like a JFK-like rumor about Marilyn Monroe or Angie Dickenson.

He told you he was going to grab your pussy before those Mexican rapists got to it.

No ambiguity there.

As Cramer noted, these people weren’t “hoodwinked” into a vote they didn’t understand.

So that’s the problem. How do we solve it?

No fucking clue.

That said, here are a few thoughts to consider before 2020:

 

  • The thing that hurt my student and me (and probably a lot of you) is that these people who voted for Trump were always here. They lived among us. It wasn’t like Trump took a container ship some place and imported 50 million voters from Asshole-istan and took over the country. These people shop with you, eat with you and work with you. Your kids go to the same schools (I found that out when the mother of one of my kid’s friends turned up on a Ron Johnson commercial, bitching about Feingold and Obama.) and you probably wave to each other when you pass on the road.
    They’re not going anywhere. We just figured there weren’t as many of them out there as there turned out to be.
    Let’s assume for a minute that Hillary Clinton was right when she made her “basket of deplorables” comment: Half of Trump voters are racists, sexists, homophobes and other horrible, vile things. That leaves us with slightly more than 30 million Trump voters outside that basket.
    What do we want to do with them?
    If the answer is, “Get out the vote next time” that’s akin to seeing a leak in the ceiling and fixing it by using a bigger bucket to catch the drips. Trying to get more of “us” to vote to counteract the surge in “them” doesn’t solve the “they’re here” problem.
  • For all the talk about pulling rural knuckle-draggers out of East Shithole-ville, we need to consider the converse. No, I’m not talking about learning the words to “Deutschland erwache” or getting fitted for a white sheet. It’s that kind of thought process that put us in this mess in the first place.
    Barbara Ehrenreich touched on this concept in her book “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” when she went to work for $7 an hour to see what poverty was like. Linda Tirado took this a step further in “Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America,” as she actually lived the life Ehrenreich visited. However, in both cases, you were looking at survival in larger metro areas.
    What’s it like hauling lumber, milking cows, running the town’s only diner or teaching in its only school? How many people out there have never met a person of color, a gay person or any of the other things Trump is shit-talking? I have a hard time believing anyone on the New York Times editorial board goes home smelling like pig shit at the end of the day or waking up unable to move their right arm. It’s easy to say, “You should come to my way of life” if you have never experienced someone else’s.
  • Vilifying and castigating people have never, ever led to improvements. When someone tells me I’m bad or stupid, the next thought in my head isn’t usually, “Hey, this guy might be on to something! Let’s listen more closely!” Instead it’s “Fuck you and everyone who looks like you.” I have no idea how best to reach people before the next time we have to play, “Let’s Save the Republic,” but I do know what is happening now sure isn’t it. Telling people “We know better” or “Your way is the wrong way” got us here. It’s that self-assured smugness we all hate in Trump and fans of the New York Yankees. We might be right that we know better or that one way is better than the other. That said, that’s not the answer. We have gotten into a pattern that isn’t helping us connect: We wait for our turn to speak. We don’t listen.

Now, we have to at least consider lending our ears.